Jan. 6 rioter may be seeking to delay sentencing because he likes being locked up, prosecutors say

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WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to deny a Jan. 6 rioter’s request to delay his sentencing, arguing that the defendant may be seeking to remain incarcerated.

Brandon Fellows was convicted last year after representing himself at trial, where he told jurors that Jan. 6 was a “beautiful day” and that he liked “the fact that those senators and congressman were in fear for their lives.”

“We had to take the election back. It was stolen,” Fellows testified, adding outside the presence of the jury that he was in a “kangaroo court” and referring to the judge as a Nazi.

Before that, Fellows was among a small percentage of Capitol attack defendants who were held in jail before their trials. He has been incarcerated since July 2021, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 29.

Prosecutors are seeking 37 months in prison, with sentencing guidelines ranging from 30 to 37 months of incarceration.

If his sentencing were to be delayed for several more months, as Fellows has requested, he could end up serving more time behind bars than he would ultimately be sentenced to, and potentially even more than the three years sought by prosecutors.

Delaying sentencing further, prosecutors wrote in a filing Thursday, “is not in the interests of justice, but, given his statement during a hearing on December 13, 2023, that he was in no rush to proceed to sentencing, remaining incarcerated may be the defendant’s goal.”

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Brandon Fellows sits in Sen. Jeff Merkley's office.
Brandon Fellows in Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.USDCDC

In self-authored memo — in which he wrote that rioters “had and have a right to overthrow the government once Pence certified the stolen election” and called Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden “corrupt” and “a modern day Nazi judge” — Fellows sought to delay his sentencing until the Supreme Court rules in another Jan. 6 case that may impact one of the charges against him.

Fellows, who has indicated he’s in no rush to be sentenced, has praised the federal Bureau of Prisons facilities where he’s previously been incarcerated, saying in his memo that they were “awesome and very fun!”

He said he preferred prison over jail because prison had weight rooms, classes and more nutritional food.

During his trial, Fellows told jurors that he was on the autism spectrum and was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in addition to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Brandon Fellows sits on a motorcycle at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Brandon Fellows at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.USDCDC

Federal prosecutors say that Fellows “is in the unique position that proceeding with sentencing as planned on February 29 may result in his release on that date,” and said it was clear Fellows was seeking to postpone that hearing any way he could.

“The Government has no doubt that he would like to delay his sentencing by any means necessary,” they wrote in a court filing. “The defendant has demonstrated that he is in no particular hurry for his case to conclude, even though he is in custody.”

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Fellows, a tree cutter and chimney repairman who lived in upstate New York before the attack on the Capitol, cheered on the mob on Jan. 6, smoked marijuana in the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and heckled police officers who were protecting the building, according to evidence presented at trial.

Prosecutors said 37 months of incarceration would be warranted given “the gravity of Fellows’ conduct, his persistent lack of remorse, and the utter lack of respect he has demonstrated towards this Court and the rule of law.”

“Brought my heart joy to see these members terrified for their lives,” Fellows wrote on social media hours after the attack. “For what they have done and are doing to this country I hope they live in constant fear.”

After his arrest on Jan. 16, 2021, according to evidence presented in his case, Fellows chuckled and “asked the FBI agent for a Sharpie, so that he could write ‘liberty’ on his forehead for his mugshot.”

When the jury foreperson announced the verdict at his trial, Fellows interrupted her, yelling “This is how you radicalize people!” according to a court transcript.

Prosecutors said Fellows “has used every chance he has gotten — in media interviews, his social media, and through his trial testimony — to insist that his actions were perfectly lawful and justified, despite knowing it was not.”

More than 1,250 defendants have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and federal prosecutors have secured about 900 convictions.

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